Bray’s youth camp a success
By Kevin Eckleberry
HAMILTON – He stretched, but the ball was just out of his reach.
As NFL training camp gets under way, Quan Bray will be catching passes from Andrew Luck, the outstanding quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts with the rocket arm.
On Saturday morning, Bray was running patterns at the Harris County football stadium, and he was hauling in balls from young players who hope to be on an NFL field on day.
Some of the passes were on target.
Others were out of the grasp of even someone as fast and gifted as Bray, who is preparing for his third season as an NFL player.
Bray, through his Quan Bray All-Purpose Foundation, hosted the Fundamental Skills Camp on Saturday, with more than 100 boys and girls participating.
The camp, which was free to players in the sixth grade through the eighth grade, lasted three hours.
Bray was in the middle of the action, whether he was running routes, showing the proper way to recover a fumble, or doing pushups to motivate the campers.
Bray was joined by some of his peers in the football world, including Jordan Jenkins, a defensive lineman for the New York Jets.
Also lending a hand were Tae Crowder and Taquon Marshall, who play for Georgia and Georgia Tech, respectively.
“It’s a great turnout, for the last minute. We had two weeks to get the word out,” Bray said while keeping an eye on things at Harris County’s artificial-turf stadium on Saturday. “I’m definitely enjoying it. I’m getting a good vibe. That’s what it’s about.”
Bray recently began his foundation, and he wanted to offer a youth camp as part of it.
His hope is to make it a regular event each summer, and perhaps even offer more than one camp in years to come.
“Next year, I’m going to try to have one in LaGrange, too,” Bray said. “I’m definitely looking forward to that.”
While Bray played his high-school football in Troup County, first at Callaway for three seasons and then at Troup for his senior year, he spent time playing the game in Harris County as well.
“I have a connection to this area, too,” Bray said. “Tae Crowder, that’s my cousin.
“And Taquon, me and him played rec league together. I played rec league down here.”
During his playing days at Callaway, Bray became one of the state’s most heavily recruited players, and he transferred to Troup for his senior season and continued to excel.
Bray signed with Auburn, and in the summer before his first collegiate game, his mother Tonya Bray was murdered.
It was a brutal blow for Bray, but he persevered and enjoyed a stellar career at Auburn, and now he has made a place for himself in the NFL.
Bray wasn’t drafted following his senior season at Auburn, but he was signed as a non-drafted free agent by the Colts in the summer of 2015, and he is in his third year with the team.
Bray has been a kick returner and reserve wide receiver for the Colts during his first two seasons in the league.
Bray, who has overcome some substantial obstacles in his life, wants to give back, which is why he created his foundation.
“You just show them that whatever vision they have is possible,” Bray said. “Always set your goals high. Do the best you can. No matter what you do, put that drive to it, and you can do it.”
Bray said the foundation isn’t just about athletics.
“That’s why I call it all-purpose,” Bray said. “It deals with everything. It’s a versatile foundation. It’s not just sports. It’s anything. It doesn’t matter what it is.”
Bray’s message to the campers on Saturday, and whenever he speaks to young people, is to always keep pushing, no matter what obstacles are in the way.
“No matter what you’ve been through, you can definitely make it,” Bray said. “It’s the mentality of what do you want to do. No excuses. You can go whatever you want to go.”